Singapore F&B firm Slake's early move into online orders pays off amid Covid-19 pandemic

SINGAPORE – Food and beverage company Slake was struggling to attract diners when it started out about seven years ago in a quiet neighbourhood in Siglap.

In 2017, it tapped a government grant to sign up for services by F&B payment and ordering platform provider Getz, which allow customers to order food in-store or online, for self-collection or islandwide delivery.

That early start in food deliveries, which gave a small boost to revenue then, has helped Slake to be in good stead when the pandemic struck.

Founder and co-owner Jeremy Cheok, 36, said he felt the difference when restrictions on dining in kicked in during the eight-week circuit breaker last year from April to June.

“We were fine-tuning our menu and finding out which items were suitable for delivery. We didn’t have to waste any time to set up an online platform.”

Slake was cited by Finance Minister Lawrence Wong as an example of a firm that has seized opportunities to future-proof itself.

The 2017 help came from Enterprise Singapore’s (ESG) Productivity Solutions Grant, which supports companies in adopting IT solutions and equipment to enhance business processes.

Slake’s online ordering platform now also features its other brands such as rice-bowl concept Tokidon and Kiap, which has tacos in Asian flavours.

Some of the brands’ physical stores have closed amid the pandemic. “So we collapsed everything into Slake’s kitchen in Siglap,” said Mr Cheok.

Kiap – a virtual brand set up in May last year with the help of ESG’s Enterprise Development Grant – has been a lifesaver, selling 800 to 1,000 tacos a day.

“When the circuit breaker came, our revenue fell by about 10 per cent to 15 per cent… With Kiap, we managed to improve revenue by 20 per cent from our baseline. So we stopped losing money and even managed to earn a bit more, said Mr Cheok.

“It really saved the business and allowed us to keep staff and not cut salaries.”

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